breed in the bone
- (idiomatic, of a habit, personal characteristic, etc.) To establish or ingrain firmly within someone's nature.
1825, Sir Walter Scott, chapter 30, in The Betrothed:
- "And for thy ill tongue, and worse practices, his lordship knows they are bred in the bone of thee."
1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe, chapter 19, in Uncle Tom's Cabin:
- "My father was a born aristocrat. I think, in some preexistent state, he must have been in the higher circles of spirits, and brought all his old court pride along with him; for it was ingrain, bred in the bone, though he was originally of poor and not in any way of noble family."
- 1985 Dec. 8, "Books: Robertson Davies returns to a familiar, fulfilling venue," Chicago Tribune, p. I33 (retrieved 12 July 2011):
- Davies meticulously establishes the background, the breeding in the bone, of his hero's life.
- 1998 May 29, Chris Darke, "Film: Famiglia feelings," The Independent (UK) (retrieved 12 July 2011):
- The distinctiveness of Bellocchio's approach lay in his taking mental affliction, in this case epilepsy, and figuring it as symbolic of the self-immolating rage and frustration that the dysfunctional family breeds in the bone.
- 2008 Aug. 13, James Graff, "Russia: In Search Of Unity," Time:
- One principle ought to be bred in the bone of any European after the carnage of the 20th century: that no act of state bears such ominous consequences as changing a border by force.
- Usually found in the past participial form, bred in the bone, and often hyphenated when used as a modifier: bred-in-the-bone.
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